Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford & member of the government’s vaccine task force, Professor Sir John Bell, has given his backing for what he has called the “game-changing” national Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) - a blood cancer clinical trials network funded by the charity Cure Leukaemia.
Despite the impact of COVID-19 on the delivery of blood cancer clinical trials across the UK, and the £1,500,000 fundraising shortfall Cure Leukaemia faced in 2020 due to the pandemic, TAP enabled a new study named PACE, examining the effects of COVID-19 and other infections on patients with blood cancer, to be setup in under 1 month. PACE has now recruited 200 patients from 30 UK hospitals. Work has also continued on new trials during the pandemic meaning a further 5 TAP trials are due to open in the next 12 months.
Speaking about TAP, Professor Sir John Bell said:
“Cure Leukaemia’s funding of the UK Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) is a game-changer and increases the access for blood cancer patients to potentially transformative new therapies through the delivery of practice informing clinical trials which not only saves lives but also increases investment into this country’s economy.
We have seen the urgent importance of clinical trials to combat the COVID-19 virus and we must not lose sight of the transformative role networks like TAP play in connecting blood cancer patients in the UK with critically important clinical trials.”
To mark World Cancer Day on Thursday February 4th, Cure Leukaemia is keen to highlight that this vital clinical trial network is continuing to offer blood cancer patients, from a UK catchment area of over 20 million people, access to potentially lifesaving and practice informing clinical trials.
One of these clinical trials, VICTOR, is a clinical trial for blood cancer patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). VICTOR, which is funded by Cancer Research UK, is due to open at over 40 UK sites (including the 12 TAP sites funded by Cure Leukaemia) in early 2021 and will be co-ordinated by the TAP Hub which also receives funding from Cure Leukaemia and is based at the Centre for Clinical Haematology in Birmingham.
AML affects more than 3,000 people in the UK every year and VICTOR will examine the efficacy of the treatment venetoclax as an alternative to the intensive chemotherapy currently available to patients under standard care. The study will investigate if venetoclax is able to target and kill leukaemia cells more selectively, producing outcomes at least as good as the standard of care option with fewer long and short-term side effects. The trial will initially start with patients aged 60 or over and, if successful, younger age groups will be added.
Chief Investigator for VICTOR, Dr Richard Dillon from King’s College London said:
“I am delighted that so many sites across the UK (41) as well as Centres in Denmark and New Zealand will be running this important clinical trial. We are all very excited to get started to see if we can improve the standard of care for patients with AML.
I am immensely grateful to the Cure Leukaemia funded TAP, its Hub and Cancer Research UK for making this study possible and it has highlighted to me how by working together we can really start to make big changes for people with this horrible disease.”
Cure Leukaemia chief executive James McLaughlin said:
“Despite the ongoing challenges we are facing due to COVID-19, we are keen to highlight on World Cancer Day that pioneering treatments are still being made available to blood cancer patients across the UK. VICTOR is just one of 5 clinical trials due to be opened and delivered by TAP in the next 12 months and to ensure that this network can continue to offer hope to patients we must address the £1,500,000 fundraising shortfall we recorded in 2020.
It is vital that we continue to raise the funds required to sustain this network and give clinicians across the UK the opportunity to trial new and potentially practice informing clinical trials.”
Cure Leukaemia wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP in April 2020 requesting financial support from the government after a number of the nurses the charity funds were re-deployed to work on the front-line to combat the virus. James continued:
“We are still waiting for a response from the Chancellor to our letter last April. Today’s announcement highlights the vital importance of the TAP to offer hope to the 38,000 people diagnosed with a form of blood cancer every year in the UK and I hope that the government can recognise the national importance of TAP and also the direct impact our nurses have had on the UK’s response to this pandemic.”
To help us continue to ensure patients have access to clinical trials like VICTOR, please support us in 2021:
How funds raised for Cure Leukaemia help save lives